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“Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi wasn’t sure what she would be in for if she signed on to the new season of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” which premieres Monday at 8 p.m.
“I’m not really into competition,” Polizzi, who’s now a married mother of two children, told Business Insider recently. “I like to just go, have fun, meet friends, then go home, so [“Celebrity Apprentice”] was sort of out of my comfort zone.”
Polizzi is no stranger to reality shows.
Along with being controversial for the hard-partying lifestyle of its young adult cast and perceived Italian-American stereotypes, “Jersey Shore” was MTV’s highest-rated series ever. At its peak in 2011, nearly nine million people tuned into its third season. Polizzi was its standout star and went on to have her own MTV spinoff, “Snooki & JWOWW,” competed on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” and appeared on other cable reality shows. But “Apprentice” is a different animal for Polizzi.
“I had never even watched the show before. I had heard of it, but I never figured I’d be on it,” Polizzi, 29, said. “So when they did ask me to be on the show, I kind of had to watch the season before because I didn’t know what to expect.”
Polizzi wasn’t alone. Donald Trump, who hosted the business competition reality show for seven seasons since it debuted in 2004, threw a wrench in the works when he announced his presidential run in June 2015.
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Slammed with protests over remarks Trump made about Mexican immigrants during his speech, NBC pulled out of airing the Miss Universe pageant, which was partially owned by the real estate mogul at the time. The network also said it was cutting business ties with Trump, which reportedly included removing him as host of “Apprentice” (though Trump says he quit). Since then, it has come to light that the president-elect continues to have a producing role on the show.
Nevertheless, NBC announced movie star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would take the “Apprentice” reins as its new host in September 2015 – a major factor in Polizzi’s decision to join the cast.
“It was for a great cause. I can’t say no to that,” Polizzi, who chose to play for the North Shore Animal League because of its dedication to no-kill pet adoption shelters, told us. “And also I’m a huge fan of Arnold. So it was kind of a no-brainer, you know, just try it out and see how it goes.”
NBC has held details of Schwarzenegger’s “Apprentice” close to the vest, especially his version of Trump’s famous “You’re fired” dismissal tagline. Polizzi, though, gave us a sense of how the movie star compares to the president-elect.
“I feel that Arnold has his own way of managing us,” the reality star said. “Arnold’s boardroom is way more terrifying than Trump’s, because he’s ‘The Terminator,’ so it just made it that much scarier. He definitely brought his own vibe to it.”
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“He’s definitely a hardworking, tough boss,” she continued of Schwarzenegger, “but he criticizes you in a good way in order to help you and give you advice on how to do it better. Even though he’s scary and it’s intimidating to be in front of him in the boardroom, he’ll always kind of lift you up with his criticism. So he wasn’t like a bad, mean boss, but his mannerisms and him being him made it scary.”
Polizzi’s goal going into the show was to “learn more about myself and business.” Though she can’t reveal how well she did on the competition, she did say that she learned a lot from the “crazy,” sometimes grueling 12-hour tasks on the competition.
“I have to be more assertive when it comes to making decisions,” she said of what she learned during “Apprentice.” “Even in my own business ventures, sometimes I’m not as bossy as I should be because I care about people’s feelings and I don’t want to hurt their feelings. So I just realized that it’s business and it’s not personal.”